On preparing to be a foster parent

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fos·ter /ˈfôstər/

  • Verb: Encourage or promote the development of (something, typically something regarded as good.)
  • Adjective: Denoting someone that has a specified family connection through fostering rather than birth.
  • Synonyms: verb.  raise – cherish – bring up – nurture – nurse – cultivate; adjective.  adopted

Craig and I never ruled out the possibility of adoption “some day,” but it’s so so so easy to put “some day” into that category of “Okay, we’re open, but let’s be real here…NO.”

“Some day” becomes that lofty ideal of some future time when sin ceases to exist in ourselves and our family, when finances no longer cause tension between spouses, when tidiness isn’t simply something we aspire to, but something we live.

In short, “some day” never comes.

Last month, I attended the 8308 Conference here in Oklahoma City. I had a feeling I would walk away knowing something would change for us, but I had no idea how.

Here’s a little bit of the how:

There’s that word again: restored. That’s what we want to be about, but here’s the deal – it sounds so absurd to be about the business of helping restore families, helping restore tiny lives, helping restore people when our own lives seem everything but so much of the time.

That night, after I spent the day with my heart on the outside of my body and meshed with some seemingly random statistic that was quickly becoming less random as the day wore on, Craig and I looked around the house and sighed. Dishes in the sink, on the counter; homework on the couch, on the floor; laundry on the bed, under the bed; a child of our own, in her room for 30 minutes until she could control her attitude.

What were we thinking?

What are we thinking?

And he says, “Does it make sense to bring another child into our completely chaotic lives?” And I say, “No, it doesn’t. But is there any chance that our brand of chaos is a haven compared to the version of chaos they’ve been living in until now?”

And we’re quiet because we know that mis-managed laundry and lazy habits are indeed better.

And we’re quiet because we know that no matter how busy our lives are now, somehow we’re managing the busy on behalf of six and what’s one or two more?

And we’re quiet because we know we’re in the biggest house we’ve ever lived in for the entire 15.5 years we’ve been married so far.

And we wonder. God? What are you doing here?

The 8308 Conference mentioned above was so named because, as of January 1 of this year, there were 8,308 children in Oklahoma state custody. Here’s  a little bit of what I came home with that night from Ben Nockels (111 Project), Josh Bottomly, Nathan Mellor, Guy Feist, Kelly Rosati, Michelle Kelley and others, as taken from my “tweet notes” that day:

  • James 1:27 – Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
  • We have a serious problem in Oklahoma. Over 103K abuse allegations and less than 3 million population.
  • Their lives have become invisible to us and we have become numb.
  • The problem isn’t the system; it’s the condition of my heart and yours to allow these kids to become nameless and faceless.
  • The gospels are all about Jesus going into chaos and bringing order.
  • God has given us everything we need for this, and either you believe that or you don’t.
  • Create margin in life so God can do great things in your life. Look for an opportunity for radical obedience.
  • If we’re really about the sanctity of life, we have to do something.
  • There are 7,000 churches in Oklahoma. We should NOT have an orphan crisis here. We need to do more than talk about it. We need to DO it.
  • Wondering if fostering is the right thing for you? It is always right to take care of children.
  • Not everyone is called to BE the foster parent, but everyone IS called to care for orphans in some capacity.

So. Here we are, some 3.5 weeks after this snapshot in time and still moving forward. Craig and I attended an orientation meeting with one local group, but it didn’t seem like the right fit for us. Although we did connect with one Atlanta parent with a similar outlook as us, it wasn’t enough for us and we found another. I attended their orientation last night, sans Craig, who is in Ohio with Michael Card and the Biblical Imagination Conference, but with all the girls.

And today I’m filling out paperwork. Preparing for fingerprinting. Remembering life with diapers and car seats and strollers and bottles and realizing just what a major game changer this whole thing actually is.

And scary? Yes.

Even still, it’s right. And we know it.

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20 thoughts on “On preparing to be a foster parent

  1. Linda Farley says:

    Wow, Megan! We will be praying for all of you. So glad you are listening to His voice and moving forward on this. Maybe the Lord will even use your family as a catalyst for other families in your church and school to get on board as well. Keep us posted as you begin this journey!

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  2. Jess says:

    We are with you guys in this. It’s been on our hearts for a few years too and we are moving forward soon after the move to the U of I! We have all the same insecurities. 🙂 Love you guys!

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  3. Stephanie says:

    We’re 10 months into being foster parents to three beautiful children (sibling group). Our intention was only to take in one…HA! I know this used to be a tag line in a military commercial, but the phrase “It’s the toughest job you’ll ever love” is so very true. We went into it with no children of our own, so it was a shock for these 40 year-olds. 🙂
    God will work wonders in you and show you things, good and bad, about yourself you never saw before. There are times I wonder what in the world we got ourselves into (dealing with “the system” can make for crazy at times), but never once have I regretted it. I can’t imagine any other little ones sleeping in those beds.
    Please forgive me for the following “unsolicited advise”. If you haven’t already, buy the book “The Connected Child” by Dr. Karyn Purvis and become very familiar with her an her work at the TCU Institute of Child Development. She specializes in working with “kids from hard places.” She’s amazing. She’s also connected with a foster/adoption ministry called Empowered To Connect. Be sure to check those out.
    Second, if you can, do your fostering through an agency instead of working with DHS on your own. We are with Angels Foster Family Network, but there are others like Bair, Sunbeam, etc. Having the support of an agency has been wonderful for us. For example, we had issues getting daycare worked out in the beginning. If we did not have the agency, I would have been on the phone for hours getting that worked out. But since we are with Angels, they took care of all that for us. It took two weeks! They have been so helpful and supportive.
    Again, my apologies for all of unsolicited advice from someone you don’t even know. Blessings to you as you follow the Lord in this new stage of your life!

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  4. Megan says:

    Thanks so much for your great thoughts and experience here, Stephanie! Angels is actually the orientation I went to on Friday and was really happy with the direction they are going in. I will definitely look into the resources you mentioned here. Though we have four kids of our own, we consider ourselves very much the rookies here. 🙂

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  5. Megan says:

    Linda – We think of you all and the VM’s a lot these days as we prepare to walk in this direction. Perhaps not the adoption direction you all went in (though who knows?) but definitely do think of you!

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  6. Megan says:

    Yay, Jess! I’m not sure if I remember you were going to do that or not, but glad we’ll be walking this journey together, though so far apart. 🙂

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  7. Corrie.e.johnson@gmail.com says:

    Megan,
    My Mom has been doing infant foster care for the last 10 years through Bethany. It was such a blessing to my brothers and I to have these precious babies around–we learned so much!
    Lots of love,
    Corrie (and Slade)

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  8. Sandy says:

    We have been fostering a little boy with Down Syndrome in China for the last few years. It’s been worth every hard minute of it. We are getting ready to leave China and leave him with his ayi (Chinese nanny) until his forever family gets here next year. Saying good-bye is heart wrenching but what an honor to be part of his story.

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